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Kenya Airways Set to Resume New York Flights as Airline Seeks to Pay Pilots Per Flight

Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways  is set to resume the New York flights this Saturday after a seven-month halt caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This is in line with KQ’s flight strategy as the airline opens up more routes following the resumption of the international flights in August.

Chief executive Allan Kilavuka said the national carrier has so far recorded a 40 per cent cabin factor load in early bookings for the first flight to the United States. KQ will initially operate two weekly flights (Wednesdays and Sundays) on the Nairobi-New York route before increasing the frequency to three times a week (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays).

The New York route, which is exactly two years old, is a crucial destination for KQ as the carrier uses its hub at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to connect passengers to the US from other countries, adding to its increased code sharing agreements with other U.S Carriers.

At the same time, Kilavuka said the airline was getting to the negotiating table with its pilots to have them paid per trip as the national carrier seeks a lower wage bill to weather the coronavirus storm that has crushed air travel demand.

With no quick recovery in sight, KQ is seeking to cuts costs in a plan that will see it lay off an unspecified number of workers, get rid of some assets and review aircraft leasing terms.

The carrier, which was struggling long before the Covid-19 outbreak, has deployed 26 percent of its airplane capacity on reduced air travel, especially on European routes. The airline earlier said it preferred to lay off half of its pilots to withstand the cash flow crisis deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic.